VBS Week..or..How I Learned to Relax

It is VBS week around here. Usually I catch up on chores, make lists, work on curriculum or some other really important thing..You see, I am Relaxation Challenged.
This means that I feel horribly guilty if I am not doing something *important * at all times. Making lists, catching up on correspondance, checking out curriculum while watching t.v…balancing the checkbook while waiting in traffic…somewhere in me I have decided that doing these things makes me better than NOT doing those things.
Which is, of course, a lie from hell. Since Marc’s knee porblems began I have gone nonstop..I have to drive him to work and to his VA appointments ebcause he is on narcotic meds..(he has an opiate patch now…hopw 70’s, huh?) Anyway in the midst of all of this relentless activity I decided that this week I would relax. I would watch the grass grow, listen ot the clock tick…
Except yesterday while the kids were gone Marc and I both had appointments at the VA..He got a wheelchair and crutches (the kind with the handles that go around your wrist) and I got a mammogram. My first. I suggested to the tech that they could do double duty by using the mammogram machine to screen for testicular cancer but she laughed and said she didnt think her boss would go for it, being a guy and all. And then before I ever got out of the VA parking lot I was being told by my doc that they had found *something* and I have to go for a sonogram tomorrow at 9:30.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Once again my life seems to be spinning out of control despite my best efforts at keeping it spinning in a most sensible way.
But..I digress.
Today I dropped the kids off at VBS, Marc off at work and then I came home and….
I slept. The kitchen was stacked up..the laundry needs to be done..the floors could use a good sweep…but I got undressed and got back in bed and I slept all morning.
And it felt good.
TOmorrow after my sonogram I am going to come home and sit on the porch in the rocking chair with a glass of sweet tea. Thursday i am thinking of napping on SHiloh’s bed because it is a big antique bed with beautiful roses carved in it…and a pillowtop mattress that is just heavenly. And Friday? I don’t know. Maybe I will lie on the couch in the front parlour.
I get it. You only live once. This is it. There isn’t time to get the chores done so you can relax later. There is no later-it is all now. Everything in balance..work, play, sleep.

There was an excellent entry in Guilt Free Homeschooling today. One of comments that I agreed with most heartily, although I nodded amen through the entire entry, was the following, “If I had waited to begin homeschooling until I felt confident enough in my own knowledge and abilities that I could answer any question my students might ask, well, I would still be studying. In reality, I learned right along with my students. If I became hopelessly confused on some topic, the resources and experiences of others were nearby in the form of other homeschoolers, reference books, internet websites, or packaged lessons. When we encountered an unfamiliar word, we consulted the dictionary together. When we stumbled over a math problem, we worked it out together. When we were stumped by a reference to an exotic location, we leafed through the atlas or did a quick “Google” search together. The bonds created through learning together taught my students more than just new information. My students saw first-hand that learning can be an enjoyable and profitable, life-long process.
That is so true. In everything we do there is that stepping off spot, that first hesitent step forward, whether it is the first tentative pushes at the dough when we make our first loaf of bread or whether it is the faltering and unsteady movements we do on our first pair of skis. Begun is half done! Read the whole article..it is great.
A new blog, to me at least, is Principled Discovery . I found her entry from 7/23 on learning history through art an especially interesting stroll ( or maybe walkabout would be a better term) through aboriginal art forms. I got some good ideas and plan on working them into my own teaching plans…after this week when I stop relaxing!

All About Sunday Afternoons

I am sitting here listening to my family play a rousing game of Monopoly. I was playing until my 15 yr old (who we call Huck or Thoreau but perhaps we should change his nickname to Donald) put a hotel on Boardwalk. And I landed on it.
Anyway…I have fond memories of board games, especially Monopoly because my cousin taught me to play at her parents cabin at the lake on a really rainy day. We spent hours playing Monopoly and waiting for the rain to stop so we could swim …and that seemed to be the rainiest summer on record in Lapeer, Michigan. While we played I learned to do percents, to multiply by 10 and by 4, to use discernment in my real estate purchasing, and to count large sums of money. We had some amazing conversations over the Monopoly board as I moved the horse around and she moved the car…as we bought wooden houses (yes, dear, they were made of wood back then) and learned about mortgaging property to pay off debt. She, being 5 years older than me, had major information about everything and willingly shared it. Later in life she taught me to smoke so I would look older…ditched me at a movie so she could sit with her friends…ah…fun times.
I think we don’t regard board games with enough seriousness. So many of them are really an excellent educational tool because they are fun at the same time as they are teaching various things.
Now, I am not talking about the obviously *educational* games where you know you are learning something. Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, Parcheesi, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders….all of the old favorites have something to offer if we will only look past our *it’s just a game* mentality.
It isn’t just the games themselves but also the comeraderie, the conversation, the laughter, the shared memories that happen without thought. Each time we play a game we build a memory, we reinforce our connection as a family, we teach and learn. Maybe someone will ask what Monopoly means or when it was started and that will lead into a discussion of the 1920s and the stock market crash in the 30’s. Maybe we will be playing scabble and Marc or I will lay down an unfamiliar word and be challenged on it and so everyone learns a new word that will pop up in coversations for weeks, months even. Maybe nothing much will be learned but it is just an afternoon of memory building, something to draw on later as the kids grow and move away.
You see, with 2 kids grown up and moved I appreciate these times with the ones that are left. I know, from experience how fast the time goes, how soon they are walking out the door in a wedding dress or military uniform…how soon I lose my title of Most Amazing Person In the Universe.
Here is a list of some of my favorite board games and a bit of what I think you can “count” them as academically.

1. Monopoly- Economics, Math, Social Studies,
2 Scrabble- Spelling, Vocabulary, Math
3. Candyland- counting, colors
4 Chutes and Ladders- cause and effect, counting
5. Balderdash- vocabulary
6. Life- Math, problem solving skills
7. Risk- Geography, logic, problem solving, math, strategy
8. Michigan Rummy-math, money, counting, stategy, logic, memory
9. Chess- Stategy, logic
10. Clue- Memorey, logic, strategy
There are many more games but as I said these are my favorites. A bowl of popcorn, a clear area of rug in the sunroom, an afternoon with nothing planned…this is the perfect time to strengthen emotional ties and academic skills.
Our society has many avenues of escape and relaxation…some are good some are not so good…some build, some tear down and some are, at best, neutral. When you have a chunk of time choose the positive experiences over the neutral ones as mucha s you can. It is, after all, habit.
Blogs I am enjoying:
Actual Unretouched Photo

Did you ever dream of just packing it up and traveling? Seeing the country? Studying the Revolutionary War in Philadelphia and Boston, and the Civil War in Gettysberg? Teaching about the Oregon Trail while you were traveling on it?
Did you ever see the movie RV? You gotta check out this blog.
Life On the Road-Homeschool, Home Business and Cats!

Oh…and by the way…I am AT HOME. Yes! RIght now I am tucked in my own paper scattered office, listening to the katy-dids and being interrupted every three seconds by my OWN kids rather than the kids at the library! YAY!
Believe it or not two seperate people felt led to give us computers, one a lap top, and the other a desktop. I dont have everything loaded yet so it may still be a bit before pictures show up regualarly but soon..soon!

A Blog Bake Sale

I don’t often link back to my own blogs but this morning as I was doing some limited surfing I came across a great idea! The Great American Bake Sale is a website devoted to making a difference in children’s lives. They are sponsering a nationwide bake sale to raise money to help end childhood hunger.
I have challenged the readers of my food blog Baking Delights to a Virtual Neighborhood Blog Bake Sale. To be part of this go and leave a comment, and a link to your blog with what you are making so that we can all participate in this event. I have some other ideas as well…but I need a few days to perculate.
Being part of projects like this is a great way for your kids to learn compassion and serving. So many kids seem to be self centered. I don’t know if it was from growing up in the 60’s amoungst all of the turmoil or not but I have always felt a responsiblity to give of my resources to others as I could. I think it helps kids be well rounded to be involved in community..to be givers rather than always recievers.
Homeschoolers have the unique opportunity to impart their values into their children in a more intense way, for a longer period of time. If you are spending your time with personal pursuits and never reach outside of your comfort zone then you can be sure your kids will have trouble doing that as well. As I really think we are raising the leaders of tomorrow let’s raise them to be responsible, caring, and involved…

Art History Again.

I only had 20 minutes yesterday and even with fingers flying I could not finish…so…here I am with a little more time and a blessedly quiet library this morning.
The art history show on pbs is on at 10 p.m. (central) Monday nights in our area. You might want to go to your local pbs website to check details on yours. This past monday they were discussing an artist that I ahd not been familiar with that was very involved in the French Revolution. The name of the show is Simon Schama’s Power of Art..On this particular show, I assume the same one Monica saw, Jacques-Louis David’s “The Death of Marat” is discussed.
It was brought home to me again how we as visual beings can be swayed in our ideas, beliefs, and passions by art. Sometimes it is dangerously easy to do so. In any case he was a man of strong beliefs and talents and used those things to further his agenda, not unlike the Hollywood moguls of today, although, perhaps he was a bit more idealistic than money mongering.
I really enjoy the show’s in depth commentary on the time that the artist lived and what inspired his work. Artists are a weird bunch and it is interesting to see the variety of things that makes ::gulp::: us tick. I would not recommend the show for elementary ages but definitly an excellent resource for the older kids..with one caveat. If you have issues with nudity in art you probably want to stay away from this because more than likely at some point there will be some. The human form was portrayed in art quite alot prior to this century..it is unfortunate that we have chosen in modern times to sexualize it rather than sensualize it.

PBS Art History

If you do not use t.v. for school then you might want to reconsider.
PBS has been an excellent source of educational programming for us. There have been times when certain subjects were handled and explained differently than I would have but this too is an important part of homeschool..not shielding our children from information we disagree with but (the kid next to me is talking back to his computer game and I am SO distracted.) discussing with them why we believe as we do. This helps them to search out for themselves and have a basis for their own beliefs when, someday, they are challenged.
Anyway. On monday nights here PBS runs an art history program dedicated to some interesting artists. From what I have seen many of them are a bit on dark side…the 16th century artist that murdered people for inspiration, for example, but the show has been informative to say the least and I have learned alot, as have my older kids, about artists that I did not know much about before…As an artist I appreciate the excellent photography of pictures that may be new to me, and information about artists and how they lived. I have three minutes so I am going to publish now and come back and finish when I can…. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tales From the Hampster Wheel

Really. It feels that way. My schedule since Marc got sick has been non stop. Blech.
On a happy happy note in the past 24 hours I have gotten a tennant for the rental house, been offered TWO computers and saved 50% on my car insurance…Seriously.
Things are looking up..On Saturday they come to hook up the cable internet. YAY!
Sometimes I sit here and think…wow, I am supposed to be writing on homeschooling and it seems that I am doing everything BUT writing on homeschooling. Maybe that isn’ really true. Everyone has times and seasons where their schedule is shot all to …umm….you know…shot to somewhere, and it is really important to know that you are not the only one, don’t you think?
SOme wonderful friends and I were discussing transparency yesterday and they made me blush more than once by thanking me for my openess and willingness to share my struggles as well as my blessings both IRL and online. I mused that perhaps we have a tendency to allow our glass to get a little dingy, not quite so transparent and then slowly the light that we reflect diminishes until we are false not only to others but to ourselves, and our God, as well. I hope that my transparency encourages you at times.
Homeschooling under fire is just a given. SOmehow the world does not slow down when we begin homeschooling, we just put on another hat. For many of us we are all ready wearing many hats as it is and the adjustments seem endless. I have homeschooled while preparing for my daughter’s wedding (I did the dress, the cake, the flowers, the catering, and the decor), while taking care of my mom when she was dying, while dealing with my grief after the death of each parent, while losing a house to foreclosure, while a child was in the hospital for a serious injury, while recouperating from numerous births and a couple of miscarriages….through moves, flood, storms, loss of power….
You just do what you can and do the best you can. You don’t HAVE to answer to anyone about what your kids are learning. Maybe it is a season of adjustment and your kids are learning character traits rather than academics…maybe it is a time of intense academics..
I was reading in one of the restoration books I have about how we need to learn to live with our environment. How we need to allow ourselves to move with the ebb and flow of our environment…Well I think that crosses over to our academic lives. We need to learn to relax and move with the ebb and flow of our lives, knowing that sometimes will be intense and others will be relaxed. And as we are individuals noone’s experience will be the same.
AS I write this from the library I am surrounded by people that don’t seem to understand basic rules. No cell phones….only one person at a computer…quiet please…the lack of common courtesy is amazing. Maybe some of these teens are making straight A’s in school..but you know what? When they get in the real world their lives are going to be turned upside down by the one thing they haven’t seemed to learn…YOU ARE NOT THE FLIPPIN CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.
Thank you..I feel so much better now.
Having kids that understand other people’s space, follow rules, have common courtesy…these lessons are as or more important that algebraic equations and what is the capitol of Burma. DOes Burma even still exist? :/
If I am sitting here surrounded by the future leaders ..umm I have only one thing to say…
Beam me up scotty.

How Many Trips to the Compost Pile Equals One Credit in Earth Science?

Homeschooling through highschool is tricky and scary and daunting and intimidating. I should know, I am now doing it for the third time.
I will say it is easier to do it after you have all ready done it..because you can see your results and know that your kids are not illiterate and can actually hold down responsible jobs. My oldest, Erin, has been married for 5 years and kindly produced two grandchildren upon which I dote. AT least when I get the chance…They live far far far away. She seems to be normal, as normal goes. In fact she told me she admitted to having been homeschooled to someone recently and they responded with “Wow! You were homeschooled? You seem so normal!”
Chris, our 22 year old is a crew chief on F-16s at Hill AFB in Utah. He is also normal, as normal goes and seems to have grasped the basics of being an adult. He has been to Iraq once and will be leaving again shortly.
Both of them were homeschooled through high school…and… much of it was unschooled. Erin was interested in Marine Biology so her science requirements were fulfilled by volunteering three times a week at teh Dallas Aquarium. She learned how to feed sharks and pihranas (altho obviously I have not learned how to spell it) and she took school groups through the touch pool area, interacting with the kids. She is especially good at that. She knows more about marine life that you would ever want to know, including the amount of methane produce by a blue whale in a day…(alot)
When you are doing highschool it is easy to think that you are going to miss something and then get paranoid..but you know, think back to your own highschool days if you went to public school. What did you learn? Seriously, do you still remember the capital of Afghanistan? Even if you do do you realize that most of the countries we memorized no longer exist or have changed governments, capitols, names, or all of the above? Teaching high school is about teaching to love knowledge. It is about mentoring, guiding and suggesting as your teen becomes more and more responsible for their own education. I found that the more responsibility I took for what they learned the less they learned. Basically, if they don’t care about learning the problem is not school it is spiritual/emotional. I won’t even say it is discipline…Everyone has something they care deeply about and want to know more about and share what they know. Maybe it is a passion for computers and how they work, music, hair styles..whatever it is you can use it as a jumping off place for education. Let them, encourage them to think outside the box. That is the point of homeschooling!
Ethan is 13. His passion is medeviel history…castles, armor, knights.. he is a sponge. He loves to read Shakespeare, G.A. Henty and Sutcliffe…anyone that writes about these times. He plays a computer game I bought called, Crusades, about the different crusades and he has learned alot of military strategy as well as history from it..
Lately his interest has been in the weaponry used. He decided to make his own small bow and whittle his opwn arrows. He researched what made arrows fly true, how much resistance the bow needed, what types of wood were best…
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This is his creation and let me tell you those homemade arrows can GO FAR!
Now, some people would be uncomfortable thinking that his education was lopsided…but if you look at all the processes he is learning about and skills he is aquiring you will see that it covers nearly every subject covered in traditional academia, for a jr high student, and then some. History, of course..But science, engineering, physics, hand crafts and survival skills (it would be a valuable thing to know how to do if you were lost, wouldn’t it?). He had to read several books to find all the information he was looking for and he also wrote notes. He researched online. He practiced archery…he had to measure and figure length of arrow to arc of bow…
So, what is that…
history,science, life skills, english, literature, grammar…physical education…and math.

Why are we so afraid to homeschool high school? In a age where the public schools are increasingly violent and second rate many of us who have homeschooled to this point now give up and send our kids into that because we do not feel confident to do it ourselves! Of all the times our kids need to be in a wholesome environment these years are crucial!
There are several books about homeschooling the high school student..and I would be glad to answer any questions you have…ask away!

Anatomy 101, 102 and 107 For the Beginner….

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I am still hanging on!!

Titles are fun. I hope you enjoy reading mine as much as I enjoy making them up. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, we will be studying knees and joints this week. It is a natural subject since Marc’s MRI results came back from the V.A. (see, there are still miracles, it only took 4 days!) and he has, at least in his right knee, a cyst deep in the soft tissue, torn cartilage and some sort of unique and unusual arthritis that he could not remember the name of. If you will recall they forgot to order the MRI for his left knee, so they are assuming the left knee is in a similar state of degeneration. The doctor was like, “WOW! So THIS is why you are in so much pain!”. Yeah, well, duh.
The hard thing, or one of the hard things about getting older is relating, responding and communicating with 20 something doctors who seem like they should be carrying a surf board and have a streak of vivid green sun block across their nose. Fer Sher.
Anyway. Because of this we will be looking up the working of the knee. I think that we are going to make a cardboard knee with rubber bands etc…and see exactly how the joint works. I am also planning on having them look up simple machines in a book that I have and see which one comes the closest to the function and movement of the knee joint. Vocabulary words are going to be age oriented but things like, cartilage, joint, MRI, tendon, orthopedics, bursa, bursitis, arthritis ..except of course I will check the spelling on all of that!
I want to research knee replacement surgery and how that is done..and I want to study the things we can do to protect our knees from such damage (like not playing HOCKEY, huh, Marc?). …and of course the things we can use, like different types of braces, once that damage occurs.
Then there are things like finding out what a knee wall is and how it was named…What exactly DID the bees knees mean and when was it in vogue? Do frogs really say knee deep?
We will get the pedometer out and count steps, at least the younger kids..the older ones can stick to their algebra.
Then we will make bone shaped sugar cookies..and if I am feeling VERY generous we will make some bone shaped dog treats for the dog.
I think I have my ideas down.
My main problem, as you might suspect at this point, is that often I have too many ideas to actually DO and I get off focus with all of the cool possibilities until I am rendered totally incapable of actually DOING all the things I think would be cool to do. :/
The older boys are back from youth camp…hoarse…exhausted…exhilerated…I let them sleep in this morning and did chores by myself…it was probably quicker than trying to wake them up several times and having to trudge up and down a very long staircase…which, by the way, is not good for the knees.
I found this really cool and informative homeschooling site…Homeschool Blog Buzz. It is full of what’s new and what’s in the news! There is an interesting article link about a boy who is homeschooled but fighting to play football for the public school district. Homeschooler Fights to Play Football . This is something I have mixed feelings about. I read it with interest because my 13 year old is planningon playing basketball this year with the Jr. Varsity team associated with the school our church runs…but when we push to be involved in the public school system, do we then invite the public school system into OUR domain? Because if that is the case I want nothing of it. It will be interesting to follow this.
I guess that is my time for today. I am watching the weather carefully as we have dark clouds rolling in..more rain! I can’t believe it. Texas is turning into a swamp!

Just a note..

Because I am writing at the library and often finish and publish the blog as my time runs out and the computer locks up I dont get a changce to check links. I just noticed that I had several links not working ont he Just Blogging Around post. I have fixed them…Sorry for the inconvienience and go back and check them out! ๐Ÿ™‚

On Being a Kangaroo

First of all..
Sometimes when someone does something encouraging you fire off an email of thanks and it is enough..However sometimes you need to be a little more intense because for what ever reason the people REALLY blessed you.
So many of you have emailed, given, sent, and prayed for me and my family since I started this I have to say THANK YOU!! And there are a couple of people that have been incredible.
John and Paul…THANK YOU!
Dhave and Cathy….THANK YOU!
These people have gone over and above to really encourage me. And the thing is..You know..I don’t necessarily believe that it takes a village to raise a child..but I do believe that our kids watch and learn from what they see around them. During the past month my children have seen generosity and compassion literally poured out to us from people that we have never met IRL. The have learned that kindness is delivered in many ways and their lives (and mine) have been enriched in amazing ways. So thank you..Because this summer our most important lesson has been that we are not isolated, we are cared about …and that is definitely warm and fuzzy.
O.k..grab a kleenex and lets go on. ::she says with a poker face and no emotion at all:::::
Do you know kangaroo carry their young around until they are big enough to fend for themselves? Of course you do! The young start leaving the pouch as they are ready and then jump back in at the first sign of percieved danger…Eventually they are mature enough and ready to leave permanently.
Yesterday I happened to read Summer at Mommy Babble and her thoughts on attachment parenting. I had alot of things I wanted to say but only 3 minutes left on the library timer…so I thought about it all night and decided to post MY thoughts and experiences.
First she starts out with the following,I will be honest upfront and say that I love being attached to my kids. All the common โ€œproblemsรขโ‚ฌย with being attached never really mattered to me or were easily avoided by making small changes. It was just the natural choice for me and I was willing to put in the effort that it sometimes required..
I agree with this wholeheartedly. You know, many people think that kids that have been parented in this was are brats that don’t understand personal space but I find that the opposite is true. At least to some extent.
There are going to be examples of bad parenting in any group or philosophy. I personally despise Babywise and To Train Up A Child and all of that type of thing. I have seen so many examples of kids with issues from it..and yet I know of a FEW people that have really turned out lovely, well adjusted kids using those philosophies.
So I will be the first to admit that all parents that use Attachment parenting are not raising wonderful kids. But you find that in everything.
What I have found, and I have more experience than a large percentage of you, having 8 kids, is that because I am attached to my kids until they are ready to start cutting the strings they grow into very independent, free thinkers eventually. They do it at different rates. One child weaned at 7 months another was over 3 years. We did have them sleep with us up through age 2 and then as they were ready they moved into their beds more and more. With 8 kids obviously it did not get in the way of our marital bliss.. ๐Ÿ˜‰
My kids are secure, compassionate, caring and independent in their own way at their own maturity level. And honestly, my kids are mature. I can leave for an extended period of time and the little kids will be taken care of,. the animals fed and milked and the schoolwork done..They will do their chores..and for the most part they do not fight. We have never had an instance of sibling rivalry with a new baby..I think that some of that has to do with being attached.
Homeschooling is a natural next step in attachment parenting because you, as the parent, know your own child well. You know what they are ready for and when. I have a child that was reading Redwall and I mean the whole series just as he turned 8. I have a child that learned to read at 4 …and I have a child that did not learn to read at all until 8 but is now reading voraciously..like 2 books a day.
It was easy to be disheartened by my late reader and puffed up about my early reader..but the truth is that neither was a reflection on my skills as a homeschooling parent. Both did what they did when they were ready…and I had to explain way too many times why my 8 year old was not reading. >:(
Whether you use AP or not…have enough confidence in yourself as a parent to allow your child to develope in their own way in their own time at their own rate. Get to know each individually and relate to them as individuals rather than as phyllum:child group: preschool
Encourage them in their strengths and comiserate with them in their disappointments…And applaud the smallest improvements with abandon.
Children need lavish love. As a Christian I read in the Word that the Lord draws us with love…He sets boundaries, enforces rules..but always judges with mercy and compassion..As parents these are good ideas to follow whether or not we are followers of Christ.
As I have been writing this I am at the library with 4 of my children..Ages 11, 8, 7, 4 and I have not been interrupted once. The 4 year old played on the computer next to me until she lost interest and then wandered over to a nearby table where she is looking at a book. This has been for 45 minutes. SHe has not wandered off, run, talked loudly or bothered anyone. I call that independent. The other kids are also busy doign their thing.
Summer has some awesome links on her site…be sure and check them out!
Here is a really informative Unschooling site.. An Unschooling Life. Sadly the author, Joanne, is on a small leave of absence because of the death of her mom but there is a ton of info!

At A Hen’s Pace is another fun blog I came upon recently. I could especially relate to her July 10th enry, God has not been following MY plan. I wanted to spend my summer decluttering, packing to move, and getting settled in to our new house before starting up a new school year in the fall, getting involved in a new homeschooling group, and auditioning for the fall musical in our new county. Makes so much sense, right?
because this is the story of my summer as well…well not the exact stuff she is doing but you know, dealing with financial crisis, major illness, etc. etc…not to mention adult progeny that will NOT live the perfect and amazingly wonderful lives that I had envisioned for them. :/

O.k..just one more…I was just spending my last few library minutes checking out blogs I haven’t read and began reading Bending the Twigs.. What an encouragement for those of us who are homeschooling..DO spend some time here as well!

This is a picture I created from one I took of our horses..Yes it is cute…But do what it says…it means so much to them you know.. ๐Ÿ™‚
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